In his presentation, Cross-Media Marketing 1:1 Marketing: Providing Personalized Content to Drive Sales, at the Web Content 2008 conference here in Chicago, James Michelson proved himself to be a highly sophisticated and knowledgeable marketer. With one-to-one, the goal is to get the right message to the right customer at the right time on the right channel. James pointed out that when you go to a big box store and they ask for your zip code, they’re going to combine that with your name which they get off your credit card so they can gather demographic data on you and better target their marketing. Even in this electronic age, direct mail has greater readership than any other media. 98% of the population of the U.S. read their mail daily and 77% do it at the very first opportunity. So James advocated using direct mail to drive people to the web. PURLs are Personalized URLs, which companies can create for individual consumers. For example: Vip.Yourcompanyname.com/JohnSample. While it’s great to create such landing pages with highly targeted customized content, buying the data is expensive. So the other option is to ask people simply to give their first name, last name and zip code. Amazingly, in his example, 70% of people who visited a website in response to a targeted direct mail campaign gave this information, even when they had an option to continue through the site without providing it. If there’s more than one John Sample, then they were asked which one they are. I think I’d flip out when they asked which Michele Beaulieux I am because then I’d realize the depth of the information they are gathering about me. Giving name and zip seems innocuous enough because most of us don’t realize the level of detail that companies are able to get on us. Ignorance is bliss. Don’t get me wrong. I like that Amazon, for example, customizes my visits, but I want the illusion of controlling the information they know and use. Reality, of course, is that I don’t. All these companies already know who I am, my credit rating, etc. or at least they think they do. I just wish the Michelle Beaulieu who doesn’t pay her bills would start paying so I’d stop getting her calls! Companies are still human, and therefore, not immune to mistakes. So, I don’t know. It’s a scary big world out there. To get personal, people need to know something about you. In the old-fashioned one-to-one world, I choose the people with whom I have a one-to-one relationship, and I regulate the amount of personal information that I disseminate. Businesses want to make my business their business but I don’t necessarily agree that it is their business. James is on the cutting edge with this first name, last name, zip code business. I don’t recall visiting a website yet that asked me for that info. Early in the internet game, I remember seeing really high open rates in a presentation on email newsletters, and I couldn’t help but think that it’s not going to stay that high as more and more newsletters become available, and of course, it didn’t. So, it will be interesting to see if people continue to give their info so freely once it becomes more commonplace and they’re getting asked for it all the time. It will probably go the other direction. We’ll probably just grow to accept it, but that doesn’t mean we won’t feel at the start, as Darren said in the keynote, that it’s creepy.